Metz, capital of Lorraine and the Mirabelle plum is a multifaceted city that will delight lovers of leisure, culture and nature! This city of 230,000 inhabitants is surrounded by greenery with Mont Saint-Quentin (classified Natura 2000) to the north, and in its centre the Saulcy lake in particular. This can be a very pleasant summer getaway, especially during the major Mirabelle celebrations, which should take place this year between August 17 and September 8.
Majestic saint-Étienne Cathedral
Here, we arrive in a city of history: Metz already existed 3,000 years ago at the current location of the Musée de la Cour d'Or (based on ancient terms) and Place Jeanne-d'Arc. Architecture lovers will enjoy themselves if they walk between the station and Avenue Foch. They will marvel in particular at the Saint-Etienne cathedral, which is nicknamed the lantern of the Good Lord because it is so glazed. A true Gothic masterpiece of imposing dimensions, its characteristic colour is due to the use of Jaumont stone. It was originally the result of a merger of two églises : the Collegiate Church of Notre-Dame-la-Ronde and the Cathedral, both built around 1220. Their bell towers have been preserved and, in 1359, a unique vault brought them together. The building was subsequently modified several times, but became a national landmark by housing the largest glazed area of the cathedrals in France : nearly 6,500 m². Many artists have collaborated over the years, from Valentin Busch (16th century) to Marc Chagall (20th century). The intense colours of these stained glass windows perfectly illustrate the dreamlike and supernatural atmosphere of his work
At the foot of Saint-Étienne Cathedral and the covered market, the Town Hall and the tourist office face the Place d'Armes, emblematic of the city of Metz with its urban plan, characteristic of the 18th century. Accessible from all parts of the city, its role is also strategic and defensive. Although it still brings together a large part of the population of Messina today, it is sometimes the scene of festive events during the summer months. It is also the starting point of the tourist train, which takes you on a tour of the city from April to October
Visits in a mess...
In the Lorraine capital, other religious buildings are worth a look. The church of Notre-Dame de l'Assomption, and its Italian Renaissance style, the church of Saint-Clément, a former Benedictine abbey church, the church of Saint-Martin, one of the oldest parishes in Metz and the church of Saint-Maximin, for its exceptional stained glass windows, masterpiece of the poet and filmmaker Jean Cocteau. But the essential church is Saint-Pierre-aux-Nonnains. This building, the oldest in the Lorraine region, had an incredible destiny. Before its erection, the Basilica of Saint Pierre aux Nonnains, built in 283, was located there. The current building was built at the end of the 5th century by the Romans and was part of a thermal complex. It was destroyed by the passage of Attila even before its completion. It was later decided to rebuild the building but it was to serve as a chapel for a Benedictine abbey. It is from this period that the chancel of Saint-Pierre-aux-Nonnains dates back. In the year 1000, the church was enlarged upwards; it was at this time that the Romanesque nave was built. Finally, at the end of the Middle Ages, a Gothic stone vault was added. The building was again destroyed during the siege of Metz by Charles V in 1552. The city was then attached to France and the French army began building a citadel to house a large army. Saint-Pierre-aux-Nonnains then became a military warehouse until the 20th century. Finally, after many years of restoration (since the 1970s), the building opened its doors to the public in 1988. Today a concert and exhibition hall, it serves as a setting for sound and light telling the history of the city. Saint-Pierre-aux-Nonnains is simply a journey back in time, more than fifteen centuries! Finally, it will also be necessary to visit the New Temple and its medieval aspect, the elegant Cloister of the Recollets or the octagonal Chapel of the Knights Templar.
History lovers will also enjoy a tour of the Porte des Allemands, symbol of the city's medieval ramparts, the Arsenal, completed under Napoleon III, the Governor's Palace and its Flemish neo-Renaissance style, and the Maginot Line structure, a few kilometres from the city
... and must-see museums
Contemporary art lovers will rush to the FRAC Lorraine, but especially to the Centre Pompidou-Metz. Designed by architects Shigeru Ban and Jean de Gastines, the institution promotes contemporary creation in all its forms. Drawing on the famous collections of Parisian museums (from the Centre Pompidou to the Musée national d'Art moderne), it presents temporary exhibitions as well as a rich multidisciplinary cultural programme.
Finally, to trace the history of the city, head for the heights of the Sainte-Croix hill, at the Cour d'Or museum. The rooms of the Museum of History and Archaeology contain antique furniture, but also Gallo-Roman baths, funeral stelae and many objects of everyday life. In an atmosphere that is both mystical and romantic, statues are placed in the attic of Chèvremont. The place also houses the medieval treasures of the year 1000 hall, as well as Merovingian tombs. The Museum of Architecture evokes several centuries of civil and religious art that can be discovered in a room with a painted ceiling. As for the Fine Arts section, it includes several periods. Examples include Flemish painting in the 15th century and the famous Metz School in the 19th century: from Migette, a painter from Metz, to the great masters, Delacroix and Moreau
Long live the Mirabelle!
The mirabelle plum? The symbol of Lorraine par excellence, which weighs no more than 15 g, including the nucleus. This little yellow plum with its sweet taste is well worth a celebration as an honour! This golden queen has been honoured throughout the city for more than 60 years. The Mirabelle festival takes place precisely at a time when the fruit is found on all the shelves and in many dishes. The plum season is very short, from mid-August to the end of August, after which only jams or brandy remain to wait until the following year. This year, the festivities are scheduled to begin on August 17.
After the election of the Queen of the Mirabelle and her two dolphins (which will delight young and old alike!), let's celebrate and enjoy music! Throughout the festivities, special events honour the fruit, the yellow gold of the region. In particular, find the big mirabelle plum market where you can buy mirabelles by weight, but also taste a whole range of products dérivés : tarts, brandies, jams, etc.. To close the celebration, a magnificent colourful firework display illuminates the sky of Metz and, finally, the Grand Corso de la Mirabelle takes place, a parade of floats and artists of all kinds. During this particular period, the chefs of the restaurants of Metz and the region have made it a habit in recent years to put the mirabelle plum on their menu. Unmistakable!
When? When? You can go to Metz all year round, but to attend the Mirabelle celebrations, make an appointment between Saturday 17 August and Sunday 8 September.
Getting there. By car, train or plane (Metz-Nancy-Lorraine airport), everything is possible.
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